Consumer Action for a Strong Economy

Consumer Action for a Strong Economy (CASE)

Background

Consumer Action for a Strong Economy (CASE) is an advocacy group that describes itself as “the nation's foremost non-profit, non-partisan organization devoted to the singular cause of promoting consumer interests through the advancement of free-market principles.” CASE works as an “aggressive and vocal advocate for less government interference with American enterprise and industry.” [1]

CASE originally incorporated in 2016 under the name Consumers Alliance for a Strong Economy LLC. The LLC shut down, followed shortly by the incorporation of Consumers Alliance for a Strong Economy, Inc. CASE was later renamed Consumer Action for a Strong Economy. [2], [3][4]

CASE is run by Matthew Kandrach, former executive vice president of the 60 Plus Association. Kandrach lobbied for 60 Plus as recently as 2015 before moving to a position at CASE. Gerry Scimeca, Vice President of CASE, was also formerly associated with 60 plus. [5][9], [28]

CASE fights against regulation and government involvement in a range of sectors including energy, healthcare, agriculture, banking, and property rights

Stance on Climate Change

According to its website, the Clean Power Plan is a set of “reckless” regulations, and the group opposes “unproven” green technologies: [6]

CASE is fighting back against reckless regulations, such as the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which shutters power plants while producing scant benefit for our environment. We oppose government handouts and subsidies to expensive and unproven 'green' technologies that cost taxpayers billions, and support expanding areas for safe exploration and extraction of our energy assets. We further reject the never-ending calls for even higher taxes on the energy Americans rely on. CASE champions energy freedom that allows America’s energy producers to provide the power we need, safely, abundantly, leading to lower costs for industry and America’s energy consumer.”

Funding

Consumer Action for a Strong Economy does not publicly list its funding sources. In a phone interview with Jalopnik, Gary Scimeca, vice president of CASE, refused to answer questions about CASE's involvement with other groups, and asserted its policy to not reveal its clients. [7]

Key Documents

Key People

Matthew KandrachPresident [1]

Matthew Kandrach is the former executive vice president of the 60 Plus Association, a “seniors advocacy group” focusing on free enterprise, and opposing government action on a variety of issues including climate change. Kandrach was appointed vice president of 60 Plus in 2011, and first began working with the group in 2009. While working with 60 Plus, Kandrach opposed the Clean Power Plan, citing a report by the coal industry group American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE)[5], [8]

A search of lobbying disclosures shows that Kandrach performed lobbying services for the 60 Plus Association between 2012 and 2016. His lobbing areas included telecommunications, judicial nominations, internet gambling, offshore drilling and energy exploration, among other issues. [9]

According to filings at the Florida Department of State, a Matthew Kandrach is also listed as the chairperson of Consumers for Energy Fairness, an active political committee. [10]

Gerard Daniel ScimecaVice President [1]

According to his CASE profile, Scimeca has specialized in campaign strategy and “consulted or managed over three dozen political campaigns on the local, state and federal level, including working as part of the creative direct-mail team for a winning presidential campaign.” [1]

Scimeca was formerly listed as a contact and described as a former director of media relations for the 60 Plus Association. [29], [28]

Allen Miller — Director (according to 2018 annual report)

Actions

May 9, 2019

Consumer Action for a Strong Economy, represented by Matthew Kandrach, signed on to an open letter organized by the American Energy Alliance designed to fight against an electric vehicle tax credit. [35]

The American Energy Alliance has organized a coalition to proclaim in one unified voice that there should be no expansion of the misguided electric vehicle tax credit,” Thomas Pyle wrote in a statement, quoted at The Daily Caller. There is no question that the electric vehicle tax credit distorts the auto market to no gain.” [36]

According to Pyle and others who signed the letter, electric vehicle tax credits “overwhelmingly benefit the rich.” DeSmog's Koch vs. Clean project has systematically debunked this, among other well-rehearsed talking points and misinformation put forward by industry about electric vehicles. 

[36]

The letter cites research by the Pacific Research Institute (PRI), a group that has received over $600,000 from ExxonMobil and millions from “dark money” groups DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund

December 26, 2018

Writing for InsideSources, Matthew Kandrach praised amendments to the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rules that would reduce regulations designed to protect US waterways from pollution. [11]

“It’s a positive step that rejects the heavy-handed, overzealous definition imposed during the Obama years that defined each body of water — whether they be ditches, gullies or isolated wetlands — as requiring protection under the Clean Water Act,” Kandrach wrote.  [11]

He notes in the piece that among those who will benefit most from the regulatory reductions include “real estate developers, golf club owners, ranchers, mining companies and oil and gas producers.” [11]

November 30, 2018

In an op-ed at Morning Consult, Matthew Kandrach described tax credits for electric vehicles as an “unnecessary burden on American taxpayers.” [12]

November 1, 2018

Matthew Kandrach, representing CASE, was a signatory on an open letter by FreedomWorks and allied conservative groups to congress calling for the investigation of lawsuits brought against energy companies by state Attorneys General. [31], [32]

“Using taxpayers resources, Special Assistant Attorneys General operatives attempt to extract billions of dollars from American energy companies in the name of climate change. Though all attempts have been unsuccessful so far, the lawsuits and investigations brought by these operatives represent a major threat to American businesses, economic growth and job creation. Congress should exercise its federal oversight authority to investigate the misuse of taxpayer resources to subsidize state law enforcement in these Democratic state AG offices,” Patrick Hedger, FreedomWorks Director of Policy, wrote. [32]

In February 2018, CASE's Gerard Scimeca wrote op-ed at the Washington Times claiming “ There is zero evidence the oil companies hid research related to climate change.” [33]

“And despite legal allegations against them of knowing and intentional harm, as of this moment there still is no definitive consensus regarding long-term climate forecasts, including the contributory percentages of its causes or the degree of its impact on the planet on which these mayors claim to live,” Scimeca added.

September 2018

CASE ran a targeted advertising campaign fighting against a carbon tax.[13]

According to Facebook's archive of ads with political content, CASE ran a set of ads targeting the states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Utah — the same states of Republicans who had voted against a Scalise/Mckinley anti-carbon tax resolution[13], [30]

CASE Anti-Carbon-Tax Facebook Ad

“Proposed carbon tax legislation would not only dramatically increase your energy expenses, it would create extreme regulatory uncertainty and contribute to the growth of government bureaucracy,” one ad reads. 

The ads target a bill proposed by Republican lawmaker Carlos Curbelo of Florida and link to the website NoCarbonTax.com, which lists itself as “a project of CASE.” [14]

In August, Matthew Kandrach also wrote an op-ed at Real Clear Energy opposing the carbon tax bill. [15]

“Any impact on global climate change, which is the purported goal of a carbon tax, would be insignificant even according to the climate models. The Curbelo carbon tax bill is antithetical to conservatism and should be roundly rejected by all those who would like to see Congress pass legislation that is market-based and consumer-focused,” Kandrach concluded. [15]

July 27, 2018

CASE president Matthew Kandrach wrote an op-ed describing renewable energy sources as part of a “three-headed monster” that was causing the closure of coal and nuclear power plants. Kandrach describes the closure of coal plants as “cause for deep concern.” [16]

“[W]e can’t lose sight of the fact that coal plants are our most resilient sources of power,” he wrote. “Wind and solar power are intermittent sources of energy, meaning they generate power only when conditions are right. Nuclear power plants, while reliable, run full-out all the time. They can’t ramp up additional generation when demand spikes.”

” … The cost of not taking action to preserve our baseload coal power plants is far greater than providing them with needed support.”

In May 2018, at Real Clear Energy, Kandrach wrote another op-ed defending the coal industry, which he described as facing dangers such as “Cheap natural gas, in conjunction with a regulatory onslaught.” [17]

“Congress can do its part by approving a measure that would provide a 30 percent tax credit for operating a coal plant for up to five years,” he wrote.

“Although the short-term picture for coal is challenging, the long-term picture is cause for optimism. The U.S. has the world’s largest coal reserves — and our coal fleet is cleaner than ever. Coal should not be seen asa [sic] problem to be fixed but rather part of the solution to our nation’s current energy challenges.”

July 17, 2018

Matthew Kandrach, representing CASE, was signatory to an open letter signed by 41 conservative groups supporting a Scalise/McKinley anti-carbon tax resolution: [18]

We oppose any carbon tax. We oppose a carbon tax because it would lead to less income and fewer jobs for American families,” the letter reads (emphasis in original). 

Other signatories include representatives of Americans for Tax Reform, the 60 Plus Association, American Conservative Union, American Energy Alliance, Competitive Enterprise InstituteEnergy & Environmental Legal Institute, Frontiers of Freedom, FreedomWorks, Independent Women's Forum, and numerous others. [18]

February 26, 2018

CASE President Matthew Kandrach published an article in The Daily Caller supporting offshore energy production as able to “provide key revenue to our coastal states for our crumbling infrastructure and struggling public school systems, while allowing U.S. consumers to reap the rewards of reliable and affordable energy for their homes and cars.” [19]

“The Interior Department’s proposed five-year plan for offshore energy development would provide access to nearly all of our offshore acreage. But this plan will only get us halfway there if we can’t build public support behind new exploration. We urge Congress to consider the benefits of offshore energy coupled with the case for revenue sharing for consumers and their families in our coastal states, when analyzing the newly announced offshore leasing plan,” Kandrach wrote. [19]

February 12, 2018

Matthew Kandrach, representing CASE, was a signatory to an open letter organized by Americans for Prosperity (AfP) and a coalition of groups opposing a federal gas tax increase. [20]

Raising the gas tax is a bad idea. It will make the burden of government on families and businesses heavier,” the coalition's open letter read. [21]

April 2018

CASE launched an advertising campaign targeting Volkswagen, urging President Trump not to allow the automaker to sell its bought-back vehicles on the US market. The vehicles were bought back following Volkswagen's emissions scandal after the company pled guilty to cheating on emissions tests with their diesel engines. [22]

CASE President Matthew Kandrach said: “We are all for consumers getting a great deal, but the situation with Volkswagen is very concerning in the wake of the emissions scandal which led to their overflowing inventory of vehicles. Flooding our streets with heavily discounted or below-cost vehicles could lead to a tremendous disruption of our automotive market and be especially harmful to U.S. automakers. This would also punish foreign automakers who not only played by the rules, but also invested heavily in building U.S. factories and hiring tens of thousands of American workers.” [22]

Ads ran on Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC and Fox Business News, and CASE also ran a Facebook Advertising Campaign, linking to a copy of a full-page ad in the Washington Post, New York Times, Politico, Wall Street Journal, The Hill, and Los Angeles Times. [23]

Jalopnik reported on the CASE campaign, writing “The problem is that suggesting Volkswagen and the German government had this grand scam planned to dump cheap German cars into the market is just absurd.” Jalopnik also suggests that the true reason for the CASE campaign may actually be a dispute between the ARTOC Group for Investment and Development and Volkswagen. [7]

According to a letter from Volkswagen's chief external U.S. lawyer, Robert J. Giuffra Jr., to U.S. Reps Lamar Smith and Dana Rohrabacher of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Volkswagen believed the campaign against them, including videos such as that by CASE, was part of an attempt by ARTOC to have Volkswagen pay to settle the Skoda distribution dispute in Egypt. [7]

Gary Scimeca, vice president of CASE, refused to answer whether he was working with the ARTOC Group in a phone interview with Jalopnik. Instead, he cited CASE's policy to not reveal its clients. [7]

March 28, 2018

As DeSmog reported, CASE was among a coalition of groups pushing for then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to take away California's right to set its own, stricter emissions standards for automobiles. Matthew Kandrach, president of Consumer Action for a Strong Economy, was among the signatories of the open letter organized by the American Consumer Institute (ACI) calling for the repeal of the Clean Air Act waiver in California. [24], [25]

December 7, 2017

CASE vice president Gerard Scimeca appeared on an episode of the “Conservative Commandos” radio show to discuss the topic of why “Rolling back 'net neutrality' is essential to the free internet's future.” [26]

Scimeca described net neutrality as “just a power grab from the government.” He added: “And it's, it's simply a power grab from the left. Just as with healthcare and with everything else designed to control a significant part of the economy.” [26]

Related Organizations

The Herald Group

According to social media advertising disclosures at Twitter, The Herald Group has handled ad insertion for CASE for at least $5,100. [34]

Contact & Address

According to the CASE website, as of 2019: [27]

CASE for Consumers
 2221 S. Clark Street, Arlington, VA 22202
 571-766-8476

Social Media

Resources

  1. About,” CASE. Archived February 11, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/2qcmV

  2. Articles of Incorporation for Consumers Alliance for a Strong Economy, LLC. Commonwealth of Virginia State Corporate Commission, September 19, 2016.

  3. Articles of Incorporation for Consumers Alliance for a Strong Economy, Inc. Commonwealth of Virginia State Corporate Commission, September 22, 2016.

  4. Articles of Amendment for Consumers Alliance for a Strong Economy, Inc. Commonwealth of Virginia State Corporate Commission, February 10, 2017.

  5. Jim Martin. “Affordable energy is key,” 60 Plus Association, September 24, 2014. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/yMuVl

  6. Energy,” CASE. Archived February 11, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/eDpqT

  7. Jason Torchinsky. “This Bizarre Beef Is The Real Story Behind Those Anti-Volkswagen Political Attack Ads (UPDATED),” Jalopnik, July 3, 2018. Archived February 12, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/E0cBs

  8. New Vice President At 60 Plus,” 60 Plus, November 1, 2011. Archived February 11, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/ym3ws

  9. Lobbying Disclosure search for “Kandrach, Matthew” performed February 11, 2019. Archived .pdfs on file at DeSmog.

  10. Committee Tracking System: Consumers for Energy Fairness,” Florida Department of State. Archived .pdf documents on file at DeSmog.

  11. Matthew Kandrach. “Let’s Not Pollute Our Waterways With Unnecessary Federal Regulation,” Inside Sources, December 26, 2018. Archived February 11, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/TD6qT

  12. Matthew Kandrach. “Electric Vehicle Tax Credits Are an Unnecessary Burden on American Taxpayers,” Morning Consult, November 30, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/uTbLv

  13. Facebook Ad Archive search for “Consumer Action for a Strong Economy.” Performed February 11, 2019.

  14. Take Action: Oppose the Carbon Tax!No Carbon Tax. Archived February 11, 2019.

  15. Consumer Alert! Say No to Misguided Republicans Trying to Hike Your Energy Costs,” RealClear Energy, August 21, 2018. Archived February 21, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/2JSbo

  16. Matthew Kandrach. “Matthew Kandrach | Coal retirements could be devastating for grid resiliency and consumer costs,” The Tribune-Democrat, July 27, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  17. Stop the Bleeding. Preserve the Coal Fleet.” RealClear Energy, March 28, 2018. Archived February 13, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/64LuT

  18. 41 Conservative Groups Urge Support for Scalise/McKinley Anti-Carbon Tax Resolution,” The Club Growth, July 17, 2018. Archived February 12, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/QsKTy

  19. Matthew Kandrach. “INCREASED REVENUE SHARING OF OFFSHORE ENERGY MAKES GOOD CONSUMER SENSE,The Daily Caller, February 26, 2018. Archived February 12, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/0QyTP

  20. Americans For Prosperity Leads Coalition Against Gas Tax Hike,” Americans for Prosperity, February 12, 2018. Archived February 20, 2018. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/vNQMN

  21. Dear Representative:” (PDF), Americans for Prosperity, February 12, 2018.

  22. Consumer Group TV Ad Campaign Urges President Trump to Stand Firm Against Volkswagen Dumping Cheap Cars on the U.S. Market,” MarketWatch, April 27, 2018. Archived February 12, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/ozvEe

  23. Fraud. Corruption. Conspiracy.” CASE, November 15, 2018. Archived February 12, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/0Aioh

  24. Ben Jervey. “Koch vs. California: These Groups Are Pushing Pruitt to Undo the State’s Right to Regulate Auto Emissions,” DeSmog, April 10, 2018.

  25. “Dear Administrator Pruitt:” (PDF), March 28, 2018. Retrieved from TheAmericanConsumer.org.

  26. #CONSERVATIVE COMMANDOS #Gerard Scimeca #ROBERT ALT #Taxpayers Protection Alliance #David Williams 12-6-17,” Spreaker, December 7, 2017. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

  27. Contact Information,” CASE. Archived February 11, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/ef6MM

  28. Jerome R. Corsi. “Founder of 'conservative AARP' sues his organization,”  WND.com, March 2, 2016. Archived February 15, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/MpLfr

  29. CURB Lifeline Act Puts Cutting Waste and Lower Cell Phone Fees on Speed Dial for Taxpayers” (PDF), 60 Plus Association, April 11, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  30. Marianne Lavelle. “House Votes to Denounce Carbon Taxes. Where Was the Climate Solutions Caucus?Inside Climate News, July 19, 2018. Archived February 15, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/fhM1p

  31. “Dear Members of Congress:” (PDF), FreedomWorks, November 1, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  32. (Press Release). “FreedomWorks and Allied Conservative Groups Urge Congress to Investigate Ex-Mayor Bloomberg’s Financial Influence over State AG Offices,” FreedomWorks, November 1, 2018. Archived February 15, 2018. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/qTxWF

  33. Gerard Scimeca. “Sue here, sue now,” Washington Times, February 26, 2018. Archived February 15, 2019. Archive.fo URL: https://archive.fo/i7WwJ

  34. CASE,” Twitter Ads Transparency Center. Accessed February 15, 2019.

  35. Dear Senator Grassley, Senator Wyden, Representative Neal and Representative Brady:” May 9, 2019. Retrieved from The Daily Caller.

  36. Christ White. “CONSERVATIVES WARN LAWMAKERS: TESLA’S TAX CREDITSOVERWHELMINGLY BENEFIT THE RICH,”The Daily Caller, May 9, 2019. Archived May 9, 2019. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/qzvF3

Other Resources